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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
Online Library of Selected Images
Spanish American War:
U.S. NAVY SHIPS -- Gunboats and Torpedo Boats
The smallest regular
warships in the 1898 U.S. Navy were rated as gunboats and torpedo
boats. These ship types had very different functions. Gunboats
were essentially small cruising warships, lacking the speed, protection
and much of the firepower of the larger ships rated as "cruisers",
but very capable of executing presence missions in peacetime.
In war, they could conduct blockade and patrol operations in areas
of lesser operational importance, or where powerful enemy forces
were unlikely to be found. Their missions required that gunboats
generally be robust vessels with good endurance and relatively
light draft. Several gunboats retained sails to enhance operating
Torpedo boats, on
the other hand, were specialized ships -- narrow, lightly built
and fast. Their main weapon was the torpedo, which made it possible
for smaller ships to defeat much larger ones under the right circumstances.
The U.S. Navy's torpedo boats also acted as tactical scouts and
During the Spanish-American
War, the U.S. Navy actively employed seventeen gunboats and ten
To the best of our
knowledge, the pictures provided here are all in the public domain,
and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.
If better quality reproductions than these digital images
are desired, follow this link to "How
to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."
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Historical Center home page.
13 March 1998